Innocent Climbs and …

Simon Kuper has written about José Mourinho in the Financial Times today (link). The article is titled How José Mourinho failed to reinvent himself as football evolved. It contains this chart:

Elijah Meeks observed:

Simon’s article and the visualisation sent me off to look for my copy of Pat Riley’s The Winner Within (link). Chapter 1 of the book discusses an innocent climb. Pat suggests:

When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort – it is ready to climb. (1993:31)

He concludes:

A team in an Innocent Climb can feel the power surging, so internal rivalries, turf wars, and selfish behaviour patterns are set aside. (1993:37)

The and … part of the title is Chapter 2 of Paul’s book: The Disease of Me. The chapter starts with a quote from James Basford “it requires a strong constitution to withstand repeated attacks of prosperity”. It ends with this summary:

The Innocent Climb – success through unselfishness – has been shattered by the Disease of Me. The team is awash with petty rivalries. Greed and resentment eat away at the team’s togetherness and undermine its ability to collaborate. Factions divide the loyalties within the team. Personal performance slides. No matter how fast an Innocent Climb uplifted a team, the Disease of Me cuts it down even quicker. (1993:54)

The chart in Simon’s article is a powerful indicator of rise and fall. I have not seen that use of ELO ratings before. My own record of this season is much more basic.

I have been tracking each EPL team in the context of their position in last season’s league table. Grey indicates results as expected by ranking. Gold is an unexpected win or draw. Red is an unexpected loss or draw. There are three Xs in my graphic that indicate managerial change. (Note Manchester City are in red. As champions last season they cannot have any gold games. Promoted teams have an opportunity to have gold success because of their ranking. Wolves have been the standout team in this matrix. Their one red event was the week 14 defeat at Cardiff.) The matrix indicated early on that Manchester United were having some difficulties.